You'll look fabulous in the outfit, too.

How to Play Firefighter With a Preschooler During Dramatic Play

by Susan Revermann

Turn an afternoon of dramatic play into a lesson in fire safety. Your preschooler will enjoy playing dress-up with you, but pretending to be a firefighter will also help her understand what to do in case of a real fire. You never know, all that crawling around the house and rolling on the floor could save her someday. The giggles that go with the practice are just a delightful bonus.

Fire Escape

Put your firefighter gear on. Your junior firefighter may have some appropriate garb among old Halloween costumes or dress-up clothes, but how do you get in uniform? If Dad has a Carhartt jacket lying around, that works nicely for a firefighter jacket. If not, put on dark pants, a dark shirt and some red suspenders. A red or yellow rain jacket works, too. It's best to have a helmet, but your preschooler won't kick you off the squad if you can't find one.

Say “Fire!” or test your fire alarm. Show your preschooler how to get low to the ground and crawl to the nearest door. Explain that staying low to the ground will keep her from breathing in the yucky, smoky air that likes to stay in higher places, like the ceiling.

Show her how to touch the door with the back of her hand to test to see if it’s hot. Explain that if the door is hot she shouldn't open it -- she should look for another way out, like the window. This time it's not hot, so no need to jump out the window.

Demonstrate how you crawl through the house to the closest exit. Let her know that she shouldn't stop for anything, such as pets, because they know how to get out themselves.

Go to your designated meeting place, such as outside by the garage. Tell her that in case of a real emergency, someone would call 911. Use your best firefighter voice when you pretend to call from your cell phone and give your name, address and phone number. Also explain that 911 is only for emergencies and not something you do unless it's needed.

Stop, Drop and Roll

Demonstrate how you stop, drop and roll. Stop where you are, no running. Drop to the floor. Use your hands to cover your face and roll around like a madwoman to put the flames out.

With your firefighter outfit on, say, "You’re on fire! Stop, drop and roll."

Watch with delight as your preschool rolls around frantically.

Practice this drill a few times. Then it's your turn.

Fire Call

Pretend to get a 911 call on a walkie-talkie or cell phone. Look at your firefighter pal and tell her that you've got a fire call and to prep the "fire truck." Line two chairs up and sit down on them, pretending to ride the fire truck to the fire. Make sure to provide a siren noise -- your cell phone may have a ringtone that will do it, or make the "WooooooOOOOOOOooooooo" noise yourselves.

Get out of the "fire truck" and run to your fire hose. This can be an actual garden house outside, or you can make one out of a stretch of ribbon. In a pinch, let your preschooler exercise her imagination and pantomime the hose action.

Use the hose to put the "fire" out. You can turn the garden hose on and let her hose down a tree, or let her grab the end of the ribbon and unroll it while you hold the ribbon spool with a pencil through the middle. Not only will she enjoy this activity, your plants could get watered, too.


  • Explain what fire hazards are. Let her know to never play with lighters or matches, and not to play near or grab things off of the stove.
  • Tell your preschooler to never hide from firefighters or policemen, and that they are here to help.

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